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Should Christians Stay in the Methodist Church Now?

Should Christians Stay in the Methodist Church Now?

 What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace”  – John Wesley.

I am writing this on my own personal blog for two reasons.  Firstly to support my brothers and sisters in the Methodist church who have decided to leave, but are coming under increasing pressure to stay (not least from fellow evangelicals).  And secondly because I would not ask any of the sites I write for to publish this. They don’t need the hassle.  And I need to freedom to say what I believe God has laid on my heart (I add the caveat that of course I could be wrong – judge for yourself!).

As predicted in my article in CT the Methodists have overwhelmingly supported a change in doctrine which goes against the teaching of Christ about marriage.  Resolution 59/8 which recognises both same sex ‘marriage’ and co-habitation was passed by 254 votes to 46.   You know it’s bad when Steve Chalke tweets in support!

But it’s even worse than that simple bare statement of the facts.

Consider the following:

  • The Methodist Church have passed a law which defies logic – so much so that the BBC even recognised that they were accepting two different versions of marriage. This is what the conference voted for:

 The Conference amends Standing Orders as follows:
011A Marriage
(1) The Methodist Church believes that marriage is a gift of God and that it is God’s intention that a marriage should be is given by God to be a particular channel of God’s grace, and that it is in accord with God’s purposes when a marriage is a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman two people who freely enter it. Within the Methodist Church this is understood in two ways: that marriage can only be between a man and a woman; that marriage can be between any two people. The Methodist Church affirms both understandings and makes provision in its Standing Orders for them.

 So, the Methodist Church has voted that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, AND that marriage can be between any two people.  They ‘affirm’ both.  Stop.  Think.  And realise how insane and dishonest that is.  You cannot affirm that marriage can ONLY be between a man and a woman and then affirm that it CAN be between any two people.  The Methodists have made logic, language, and reality meaningless.  And the Church a laughing stock.

And then the Methodist Church lied. Their spokesperson declared that this change of doctrine on marriage was not in fact a change of doctrine.  I suppose when you can believe two contradictory things you can also believe that lying is telling the truth!

And there is more. The Methodist church denies the uniqueness of Christ.  The Shetland area wanted to have an amendment affirming the uniqueness of Christ.  I understand this was voted down because those who work in multi-faith chaplaincies said it would make their work ‘difficult’.

What will Evangelicals do?

The pattern has been repeated so many times I can tell you.  And I can also say the liberals know how weak and spineless most evangelicalism is, so they will play the same cards that always get played.

Firstly, the evangelicals will try to get a theological review as a kind of delaying tactic.  This never works.  And did not work this week.  That proposal was voted down.

Then the bureaucrats who run the denomination, fearing the loss of evangelicals (which means a loss of committed people and money) will offer a carrot.   They talk about ‘walking together in love’ – the report is after all entitled ‘God in love unites us.  And they will say to evangelicals how welcome they are in a denomination which has just emphatically rejected the teaching of Christ.  And some evangelicals will buy into that lie.

And then there is the stick approach.  Any suggestion of leaving will be met by threats – ‘you won’t get your buildings or your money’.    And many evangelicals will cave. But I would plead with them not to.  Why stay? There are financial and political and practical reasons, but are there any biblical?  Does a Christian have a right to stay in an apostate church – one that rejects Christ?  What is the point?

I hear the objections already!

‘We are needed’.  By whom?  For what?  Yes, you are needed – to go and preach the Gospel in a world which is desperate for it – not to shore up a denomination which is so opposed to it!  Anyone who knows Methodist history will know Wesley and Whitefield’s answer to that.   If people stay in because they think they can turn this around, I would suggest that that is a form of wishful thinking which makes the prosperity gospel look pessimistic!

We don’t have to do what they say”– Not yet.  But the day will come!  But that’s not really the issue.  You belong to, support, and are part of a denomination that goes against Christ.  If your denomination was racist would you say – ‘but we don’t have to be racist”?!  I hope not.

‘Leaving is too difficult’ –  I don’t underestimate the difficulties or pain.  Sometimes it’s hard to get out of a burning building – but it ends up being worse staying!  It may take planning, thought, effort, but there is a time to leave the sinking ship.

‘That’s not very loving’.  Is it loving to stay and support a denomination which preaches and teaches a message which prepares people for Hell, not heaven?  Is it loving to shore up a denomination which will attack and penalise your brothers and sisters who can’t stay?   Is it loving to join in the political game and give the Lord’s people the impression that there is actually no reason you would ever leave a church?  Of course there will be evangelicals who will stay and urge others to stay – and I’m not convinced that that is always wrong.  But there also comes a time when evangelicals who prop up and support an apostate denomination are what Lenin would describe as ‘useful idiots’.  How many times have I seen evangelicals suckered into acting on behalf of those who despise the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and that is done in the name of love!   You let the sheep stay under false shepherds who will feed them to the wolves!

Calling it apostasy is too strong.”.   Is it?  “Apostasy is essentially a falling away, withdrawal, or abandonment of Christianity.”   Is that not what the Methodist conference has done – have they not abandoned the teaching of Christ, abandoned the Bible, and denied the uniqueness of Christ?    Have they not made a laughing stock of the Church, and been dishonest about what they were doing?  The New Testament is very strong about churches and leaders which abandon the Gospel.

Jesus’s strongest words were for religious leaders who abandoned the Bible and became hypocrites (Matthew 23:27).     He said that the Laodicean church was so bad that they made him sick (Revelation 3:15).   And Paul told the Galatian church that those who preached a different Gospel should be under God’s curse.   The Methodist church of the United Kingdom is now under God’s curse.  If you believe the Bible.  And if you don’t believe the Bible – what’s the point?  Just go and join the Green/Red/Blue/Pink/ party, or some other political or social movement which reflects your views.  Don’t turn the beautiful bride of Christ into the prostitute of Babylon (Revelation 17).

I am not one of those who say you should never belong to a ‘mixed’ denomination.  After all the wheat and the tares grow together.  But there does come a point when the ‘mix’ is so imbalanced that to stay in, means that you harm yourself, others, and bring disgrace upon the Gospel.  In my view the Methodist Church this week went past that tipping point.   Can God still use people who stay in the Methodist Church? – of course he can!  He is God.  But just because God can do something with the mess that we create, does not mean that we should disobey Him in order for him to show his power!  Just because the Lord can use a donkey, does not mean that we should start braying!

We simply have to ask what Jesus thinks, and what he wants us to do….and we know that through his Word.   We are not to be yoked together with unbelievers – and that is not primarily a message about marriage, but one about uniting with others in worship.  What do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and the temple of idols?    That’s why the Lord says ‘come out from them and be separate, touch no unclean thing and I will receive you’  (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Meanwhile I remain encouraged.  Churches come, and churches go…but The Church of Jesus Christ endures forever.  It is being prepared for the wedding feast of the Lamb – and all real believers in every denomination belong to it.  The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against Her.  Although that does not mean that when one once faithful part, falls away and apostatises, we should not mourn – or pray for renewal and repentance.

Even so come soon, Lord Jesus. David

55 comments

  1. Thanks for this clear strong counsel, David. I often hear people use the wheat and tares illustration to justify staying in mixed denominations, but Jesus makes it very clear in his explanation and application of that parable that the field in which the wheat and tares grow together is “the world” (Matthew 13:38), not the church.

    1. The Dove of God has flown,best to leave with the ability to be a genuine witness of Christ.

  2. Spot on! Bless you David. We’ve passed this on to dear Brethren who feel compelled to leave. May our Lord Jesus Christ reign & be honored amongst all His people.

  3. Thanks for the excellent article. I would just like to clarify one point – “The Methodist church of the United Kingdom is now under God’s curse. ”

    “The Methodist Church in Ireland is a separate and autonomous body which continues to affirm that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Methodist Church in Ireland general secretary Rev Dr Heather Morris said.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-57671828

      1. The Republic of Ireland (Eire) is not a part of the UK! However, the UK is “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”! Hugh is correct – and your response is unusually inaccurate!

      2. He said Ireland, not Northern Ireland. Ireland is not part of the UK. Northern Ireland is…The Methodist Church of Ireland is I assume not part of the Methodist Church of the UK?

  4. POSTSCRIPT:- We’ve had to leave 3 Denominational Churches over the years we’ve been saved, all because of serious Doctrinal Apostasy, and often only able to worship in homes with a few other Believers. The last 4th occasion we actually got “chucked out” just before we left after being accused of legalism etc etc for appealing a Biblical approach to issues, rather than conform to the Mantra from the front “Love covers a multitude of sins” and “We don’t judge”!! Also, believe it or not, because we refused to conform to the Festival of Christmas which we’d come to realize w32as not Biblical. Hey ho!

  5. I have been so distressed by this trend and by “Christian” friends who have embraced the LBGTQ+ agenda. They have abandoned the faith. I will continue to pray and will not attend a Methodist church. I do agree there are true believers to be found in every denomination, but why submit yourself to false teaching?

  6. The Lord and the New Testament are very clear on this….we are meant to try to be a holy people, dedicated to him and a light to the world. The word Methodist no longer points to Christ, but to the world – their real master. Leave them and let them fold. The liberals are sucking the life out of the real Church

    The Cof E was dead when the Methodist came into existence and the Wesleys were persecuted by the establishment. We are now in the same times again. Let the Lord raise up new Wesleys and new churches….leave the old and apostate behind

  7. My great grandfather was one of the first Methodist missionaries to The Gambia. He would be distressed by this abandonment of biblical principles. Going down this path allows us to rewrite anything in Scripture to suit our whims. Indeed, it presents God as a liar – He didn’t mean wat He said. My Bible tells me that it is the devil that’s a liar and God is true.

  8. You may be right, but I am bound to ask: Why should this latest fudge of many become the proverbial last straw for Methodists, rather than the arguably more severe development reported in the following news story, nearly four years earlier?

    First transgender minister ordained by Methodist Church
    https://www.kentonline.co.uk/canterbury/news/first-transgender-minister-ordained-by-methodist-church-135392/

    On the other matter, why *shouldn’t* the church recognise cohabiting couples as married in the eyes of God, just as the state used to recognise them as married in the eyes of the state until comparatively recently in history (until the *statutory* withdrawal of state recognition Common Law Marriage in the 19th century, which instantly dissolved countless until-then legal marriages)? Call that an improvement? It was but one of many steps on the part of the state to appropriate to itself the definition of marriage, an institution which God ordained, defining to all practical intents and purposes *as* what you now denigrate as mere “co-habitation” in Genesis, before the fall.

    Indeed, how dare the church (in effect) declare that it is okay after all to covet, lust after, and even to steal one’s neighbour’s wife, if one learns that the couple next door aren’t, after all, legally married? (Perhaps they never got the piece of paper because to have done so would have undermined the financial viability of their de facto union, because of the various couple penalties imposed by the state on the legally married.)

    To fully understand marriage biblically, one must look vertically up to heaven, and down to the animal kingdom, as well as horizontally, across to one’s neighbour in human society. Many mammalian species mate for life, forming reproductive and child-raising pair bonds, in their case without a piece of paper from the government. That man is to behave as such a mammal in God’s plan is stated in Genesis to be an aspect of our creation in God’s image. The love between the Persons of the Trinity and between Christ and the Church are both compared to this noble pair bonding, witnessed in wildlife and ordained by God as the favoured reproductive behaviour of humans too.

    1. The government stepped into the marriage/ cohabitation issue to protect women and children from men who abused/deserted them.
      It is the same today. Most domastic abuse and child abuse occurs in relationships outside of marriage.
      To recognize defacto relationships simply encourages further abuse of women and children.

      1. Thank you for acknowledging the second point in my first comment and expressing a different opinion from mine. Since the main thrust of David’s post is about same-sex marriage (about which I expect we are in agreement with each other and David) rather than cohabitation, in order to keep the comments here on David’s chosen topic, I won’t engage with you on the second point further here, unless you insist, or David decides to join in a discussion of cohabitation.

        My main point was my question to David, why same-sex marriage (sort of), was the last straw for those still in Methodism drawn to separationism, rather than the Methodist Church’s earlier embracing of transgenderism amongst its clergy. For me, that was the last straw, nearly four years earlier. Had I still been attending a Methodist Church in 2017, I’d have stopped doing so over that, rather than waiting for this.

  9. It is far from surprising but is dispiriting.
    It also beings to mind John Wesley’s sermon, “Almost a Christian” :
    https://kevinmwatson.com/2020/04/28/john-wesleys-sermon-the-almost-christian-a-brief-summary/

    Does the decision really mean “any two people”? Are there no longer any prohibited degrees as far as Methodism is concerned?

    Perhaps of greater concern is the point about the exclusivity of Christ Jesus. But again that is not surprising. Until 2-3 years ago I continued to receive the Local Preacher’s magazine, even though they’d been asked, over a decade earlier by telephone and in writing to stop sending sending them.
    The content was little more than wishy washy, humanistic good works including contributions from chaplains, with no Christian theology. Saying they were Christ-lite is an exaggeration.
    What you have set-out David is more than illogical, it is confused absurdity.

    1. Geoff

      It’s got to be a legal marriage according to U.K. law.

      If it is remarriage of a divorced person then the minister can decline

      If it marriage of two people of the same sex then the minister or the church council can decline.

      I don’t personally understand how people who are threatening to leave consider marriage of divorced people (excluding allowable circumstances) within the denomination tolerable, but not first marriages of gay couples.

      1. Presumably because one is a recognition of fallen humanity seeking repentance, whilst the other is a category error.

  10. Sad state of affairs. It is like reading the downward trajectory of the Church of Scotland, just a change of name now to the Methodist church. Challenging and wholly appropriate evaluation of where the liberal church is heading.

    1. My local Church of Scotland minister is one of the denomination’s leading voices for same sex marriage within the church and also pro homosexual clergy. He is a Progressive, and last week introduced his congregation to the Enneagram, having done a course on it last summer to learn more about himself and the God incarnate within him.
      A genuine wolf in wolf’s clothing.

  11. Thanks for this David. What a sad outcome indeed and by such a majority!! In the first Book of the Bible, Genesis, we see Adam and Eve as two becoming united, physically, emotionally and spiritually and in the last Book of the Bible, Revelation, we witness the union between Christ (the second Adam) and His Bride, the Church. The Groom and Bride image/reality (not, Groom, Groom or Bride, Bride) is one traced throughout the whole of Scripture, not only until the end of time in this realm but for eternity! May God have mercy and grant true repentance to those walking away from His truth and may He grant resilience to many other denominations which will no doubt have more pressure on them now to comply!

  12. Should Christians stay?

    No. Unless your happy in a whitewashed tomb!

    It begs the question why be part of a ‘church’ that does not hold to anything biblical or Godly as revealed in nature and scripture.

    The entire New Testament teaching is abandoned, no repentance, no sin, no holiness, no Godliness, no forgiveness (because nothing is wrong) no need for the Cross, redemption, regeneration or resurrection.

    God does not change, he is same yesterday today forever.
    Mankind hasn’t changed, looking on the outward appearance.

    What the church often fails to recognise is that Satan hasn’t changed, his number one tactic is not open blatant cruelty or evil, but to counterfeit Godliness and truth with an imitation that looks like the real thing, but it has no origin in God whatsoever.

    Satan is more at work in creating a counterfeit church than in the wicked deeds of the ungodly.

  13. They’ve built their tower of Babel and in this instance it is also a tower of babble. Soneone ought throw them from the Empire that they abort the English Language so. Such a definition of marriage makes me think they wish us all to be like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland…that we may believe “six impossible things before breakfast”.

  14. A person’s age and circumstances may make it easier to just stay loosely connected to a congregation. Meeting midweek for lunch, prayer and fellowship, can be very refreshing. The-‘Sunday club’-can have rather a lot of showiness, handshaking and backslapping. I would take a small group meeting midweek, with a real depth of fellowship, over any school assembly type Sunday lecture session. It’s always fascinated me how the Moravians were keen to develop para-church networks and contacts. It’s hard to beat a prayer or home meeting of sincere believers.

    1. “Remaining loosely connected” to the Methodist Schism isn’t an option. A Christian may not remain loosely connected to a Methodist assembly any more than to Freemasonry.

      1. Being connected to Christ is what matters-not to any any denomination or congregation. Anglican Article 26 suggests that the efficacy of the sacrament is not weakened by ‘the unworthiness of ministers’. That makes sense to me. Whether to stay and resist, jump ship, or quietly remain, is a difficult personal choice. To minimise yearly giving to a congregation or denomination, and redirect it to the bible society (or mercy missions), is one choice if fundamental doctrines are not being respected.

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  16. Thank you for speaking out on this issue. You have given clear warning and contextualized the problem very clearly. We have a similar problem in the Baptist Church – the things they affirm, refuse to speak out against grow daily. It feels like we are between a rock and a hard place. Keep up the good work.

  17. The church should be counter-cultural, so why are these denominations completely surrendering to the cultural zeitgeist of our age? Are they simply buying into the lie that woke culture is itself counter-cultural?

    Western Christians need to wake up from this comfortable delusion that the world around us is still essentially on the same page as Jesus.

  18. I wouldn’t put it as the main reason why people should leave the Methodist Church (or the Church of Scotland) but maybe if the Evangelicals did leave both establishments and take their money with them, their former Churches would collapse and the liberals would have nothing left to support them. And maybe many of the church buildings would come up for sale and the Evangelicals could buy them at rock-bottom prices. Or maybe they could just do what the Catholics had to do. The Catholics in England and Scotland lost all their church buildings at the time of the Protestant Reformations and eventually, once it was allowed, had to build all of their own churches.

  19. Thank you for your observations, David. I am a pastor in Evangelical Presbyterian Church (in the USA), and until 2015 I, together with my congregation, was in the Presbyterian Church (USA). That denomination had already done what British Methodists did. My congregation and I, at great cost to us, left the PCUSA for the EPC, having to pay the denomination for property that long ago the congregation (primarily) had paid for. We had to reach a settlement with the PCUSA, which we did. Getting out was one of the best things that has happened in the history of this congregation.

    We were able, at significant cost, to get out with our property. But even if we could not have, I and the bulk of the congregation would have walked out and started over (our settlement was much less of a cost than starting over would have been, as the denomination did not want an empty building on their hands).

    You assessment is correct. I would encourage evangelical Methodists to leave. In fact, they could well team up with the new Global Methodist Church that is about to be formed by conservative Methodists in America with their brothers and sisters from other parts of the world.

  20. As someone who was brought up in a Methodist church, and who’s father still goes to one, I’m distraught, but tragically not surprised. In my experience Biblical teaching was lost in the Methodist church at least 30 years ago.
    I agree, any faithful, Bible believing Christian must leave this denomination. Wesley wouldn’t stay. He would start a new movement, based on preaching the Gospel, not the World!

    And an important question; have the Methodists just unwittingly approved child marriage?!
    “Marriage can be between any two people” .
    So “any two” could include children under 16?…..

    1. I left the Methodist Church more than 40 years ago because I received no biblical teaching at all.

    2. Wesley (tried to) stayed in the Church of England and opposed creating a new denomination for Methodists. It largely occurred because Methodists became unwelcome in the CofE.

      Remember a huge part of the distinctiveness of Wesley’s mission was to reach out to people rejected by the religious establishment. He himself found it distasteful to be preaching in the open air, but he did it because he believed that was what the Holy Spirit was calling him to.

      The religious establishment often claims such figures as its own, but forgets they were the “blasphemous” radicals of their day

      1. The religious establishment today is the same as the civic establishment – liberal progressives who deny Christ and his teaching…

  21. I wholeheartedly agree with you, apart from what you say about the wheat and tares. Doesn’t that apply to the world, not a church or a denomination?

  22. Good quotation from John Wesley – I haven’t come across that one before.
    The Methodist Church has just signed its own death warrant.

  23. Thanks for this, David. Superb. I’m wondering, where does this leave the likes of Cliff College which so many describe as “evangelical”? Look forward to hearing from you.

  24. That is so sad. It seems as times goes on that more and more churches are caving into societal norms and turning away form biblical truth

    1. Gary, I think it’s the other way round. They leave Biblical truth, and the belief that the whole bible is the very Word of God……and then they cave in to redefining sin. If one no longer follows God’s true way, then the only alternative is the World’s Way. There is no Switzerland in this. No neutral ground.
      It all starts with turning one’s back on God’s Word.

      1. I think that is spot-on. As I mentioned in a previous comment, the Methodist Church had abandoned teaching the Bible at least 40 years ago.

  25. They are going down the same path as their Uniting Church brethren in Australia. Jesus wept.

  26. As soon as this decision on same sex marriage was announced by the Methodist Church, I made the decision to leave my local church. It wasn’t easy because I want so much to be part of a Christian church, but if the Methodists are going to abandon God’s word, I simply cannot stay. The truth in God’s word is a rock and an anchor on which we must stand against the world and its lies. There are other reasons I felt very unhappy with the Church I attended which I won’t go into here. God is the ultimate judge and I leave it all in His Almighty hands.

  27. My parents, my aunts, grandparents, great grandparents and my wife’s parents, (all sadly dead now) were all Methodists. My wife and I were also lifelong Methodists. We both attended Sunday school, bible classes, we were married in a Methodist Church and regularly attended church services.
    For my wife and I the fundamental assumption was that the Methodist Church was firmly grounded in the bible. A thinking and indeed liberal interpretation was acceptable, indeed sometimes welcomed, but remaining true to the bible always.
    Unfortunately same sex marriage in church cannot be construed, implied, or argued as being compatible with the words of Jesus in both Mark and Matthews gospels, (indeed the Methodist church has not even tried to do so).
    It is for this reason that my wife and I have decided to leave the Methodist Church, we do this with tears in our eyes and sadness in our hearts, and we fervently wish that things were different.

    We would like to add that we are not anti GAY we are just pro the Gospels.

  28. Any Methodist should read Romans ch1 verses 18-32 and then see whether same sex marriage is from god.

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